PERMISSION TO SPEAK by Steve Orlen

PERMISSION TO SPEAK

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

This book of poems is by a young writer who is coming into his own--and still has a long way to go. The themes are basic--ancestry, coming of age, getting older--as is the fashionable obsession with language control and the continual striving for long-lined, tonal elegance. What sometimes sets these poems apart is the repetition of an image, line, or word to imitate the effect of an incantation or magic spell, thus promoting the idea that we are never in as much control of our lives as we think (""Tonight is the first closed door,/ the stone, and we lie down on it, sleep/ On the door, on the door, sleep on the door--. . .""). However, this effect is inconsistent and often serves to over- or underplay a line, rhythmically or in terms of content. Several poems about marriage and friendship offer observations which are sophomoric at best (""This is one of the letters I meant to write/ while shaving or walking the dog"") and there are sections in which the ideas go on so long their original intent is lost. If Orlen gives up conventional poetic gymnastics and delves further into the eerie magic present in the best work here, his poems may yet emerge as something original and significant.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1978
Publisher: Wesleyan Univ. Press